BTEA wants construction designated “essential service”

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1227 broadway
Google Maps image of construction at 1227 Broadway

The largest construction contractor association in New York City is calling on Mayor DeBlasio to follow the lead of other major cities like Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco and the State of New York in defining construction as an essential service and exempting the industry from work stoppages.

“BTEA contractors are deeply concerned with the health and welfare of their project management staff, trade labor force, and all New Yorkers as we fight our way through this pandemic,” said Lou Coletti, President and CEO of the BTEA.

“If construction shuts down, then maintenance and repair of all critical transportation infrastructure – which is essential for health emergencies – shuts down with it. Construction of affordable housing and health facilities will halt as well, which will directly impact the health, well-being and livelihoods of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Construction is an essential service and must be allowed to continue during this crisis.”

Construction work by its very nature complies with CDC guidance and facilitates social distancing in the vast majority of tasks performed on projects, since workers do not typically work in close proximity to one another.  Additionally, construction workers wear extensive protective gear, including eye protection and gloves.  Office personnel and some project management field personnel are practicing social distancing and working with reduced numbers of employees in their offices and on job sites.

BTEA contractors are also implementing additional strategies on the worksites they manage to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all New Yorkers. This includes cleaning common areas including hoists, stairs and areas of congregation; limiting occupants in elevators; practicing social distancing of workers and closely monitoring all workers for symptoms of COVID 19.

If a worker is suspected of being infected with COVID 19, worksites are immediately shut down and decontaminated before anyone is allowed back.

“BTEA contractors are doing everything they humanly can to protect the health and welfare of all personnel in their offices. Shutting down construction projects does not maintain a reasonable economic balance that will allow these workers to feed their families. The union construction industry is the last blue-collar middle-class industry left in this city and an absolute ban on all construction will be devasting to those families and to New York City.  Most if not all other jurisdictions that have issued work restrictions have elected to exempt construction, and New York City should do the same,” said Coletti.

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